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April 22, 2009


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Tony Dayoub

Stallone, as well as Arnold... in Conan the Destroyer.

But it is Black Narcissus which holds a place in my heart, as it must in many a cinephile.

Tom Russell

He was my favourite cinematographer, and his passing pains me deeply.


And I just saw "The Red Shoes" for the first time about a week and a half ago. Amazing stuff. RIP.

Account Deleted

'The Red Shoes', 'Black Narcissus' and particularly 'A Matter of Life and Death'...absolutely ravishing. Another legend has been lost. Thank you for the images sir.


"...and my autographed copy of his memoir Magic Hour—a book that belongs in the library of every self-respecting cinephile—is one of my most prized possessions."

I think we need to put a moratorium on all uses of the phrase "should be in the library of any self-respecting cinephile." I've spent more f'ing money that way, I tell ya...

Not that I don't believe it though. Cardiff was a true blue movie god if there ever was one. Every time a P&P neophyte asks me about The Red Shoes, I tell them "It's a two and a half hour movie about ballet, and it will BLOW YOUR MIND." And when they ask me about what this Black Narcissus movie is about, I say "It's a British movie from 1947 about nuns in the Himalayas, and it will BLOW YOUR MIND."

Needless to say, Cardiff was as much of a factor in this as anyone, P&P included. What an amazing man.


Mark, I'll co-sign that. **sighs, looks at her Abebooks cart** Glenn's blog is an expensive habit.

I didn't mention it in my own tribute to Cardiff, because I had already written it up a while ago, but the cinematography on Pandora and the Flying Dutchman is also one of the best things Cardiff ever did.

Tony Dayoub

"...I had already written it up a while ago"


Just curious from the way you phrased that. Do you write your obits before people die, and keep them saved? Not making a judgement, but I found it interesting that your tribute was so articulate and beautiful, yet posted a relatively short time after his death.


Tony -- Not at all, I just confused you with my ghastly phrasing in that sentence. I meant I wrote about Pandora a while back. I never write obituaries in advance because it makes me a bit superstitious, like I am somehow pushing the matter.

But on a related note, over the years I have been an avid follower of the NY Times obits, which are often fascinating mini-history seminars. A friend who works at the paper told me that of course the obits for important people are written in advance, and sometimes so far in advance that a long-lived subject may outlive the obituary writer. When that happens, it's easy to tell, because Times policy is strictly against rewriting a lead without permission of the writer. When the obituary writer has died, you will find a sentence or two about the circumstances of the death, then the dead writer's byline, then the obituary itself. I've seen a couple like that since she told me about it.


My favorite cinematographer. Rest in peace.

Among his many other gifts, Cardiff could make already ravishing women look otherworldly. Gardner in Pandora stops the breath, and Monroe is radiant in The Prince and the Showgirl as in no other movie.

(This isn't a time to dwell on his less successful efforts, but I didn't much care for the look of The Barefoot Contessa.)


I mean "about the circumstances of the famous person's death." Considering that I can't seem to write a coherent comment today I am very pleased that you liked my brief tribute to Cardiff.

I can't get over the screen cap Glenn posted; it's so strikingly decadent.

Tom Russell

@Mark: Re: "Black Narcissus", I've often tried to recommend it (and other P&P films) to the uninitiated in much the same way, but something about the word "nuns" always turned them off it no matter how much I stressed its capacity to blow one's mind or its gorgeous lush cinematography. They'd watch the Red Shoes, watch Col. Blimp, but no Narcissus.

That's when I started prefacing the word "nuns" with the adjective "horny" (which is not entirely inaccurate). For some reason, that worked.

Tony Dayoub

Siren, I had heard the same thing about the Times and thought you were emulating them. But you subscribe to the same superstitious notions I do.

Seems like no early obits would have hurried the long-lived Cardiff to his grave, though.

Pete Apruzzese

An amazing talent: The African Queen, the P & P films, The Vikings, too many to mention. Who today would actually be able to make a film look like any of Cardiff's? Instead of Cardiff's use of three-strip Technicolor, VistaVision, Technirama, et al, we're getting movies shot on videotape...(aka 'digital').

Account Deleted

@Campaspe: what a magnificent image from Black Narcissus you chose for your piece. Hard to believe Cardiff was only 28 when he shot it.

The First Bill C

For anyone with a Blu-ray player, I heartily recommend the UK import of BLACK NARCISSUS on this solemn occasion. Compared to even the Criterion DVD, it's a revelation, and finally put me at ease about never having caught a revival screening of the flick.

Glenn Kenny

Hear, hear Bill!


One of the greatest cinematographers of all time, and a personal favorite. As justly celebrated as his work with Powell/Pressburger is, recent viewings of his American work (War and Peace, The Barefoot Contessa) which startled me into even greater appreciation. RIP.

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